North West works to contain veld fires

The North West provincial government says efforts to contain veld fires across the four districts of the province are currently in full swing.

“Government has assembled a team of firefighters, environmentalists and government officials to develop and implement a plan to respond to the disaster,” a statement read on Thursday.

This comes as devastating veld fires destroyed over 50 000 hectares of grazing land in Kagisano Molopo Local Municipality over the past two weeks.

The fire also damaged fence lines, poles, kraals, and six water sources such as pipes and water tanks.

In addition, cattle were also killed in the fast-moving wildfire, the provincial government said.

According to the SABC News, wildfires have been blazing for over a week in large parts of the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District and have been reported in parts of the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality as well.

The provincial government is currently creating firebreaks in high-risk areas, while firefighters are on the ground in various parts of the province.

“Additional resources in the form of trucks and manpower have been sought from district municipalities to assist in extinguishing the fire.”

Meanwhile, a joint-operation centre has been created to coordinate the deployment of resources to various areas that are affected by veld fires. The operation includes the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Working on Fire, North West Umbrella Fire Protection Association and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality.

North West Premier Kaobitsa Bushy Maape said government is working around the clock to normalise the situation.

“We are working hard to bring the situation under control. We have deployed officials of government in various parts of the province to deal with this situation and they are working for hand in glove with other stakeholders to respond swiftly to this disaster,” said Maape.

He has also appealed to residents to desist from starting open fires.

“Residents must note the danger of starting open fires. The destruction might come at the cost of human life. The current veld fires have destroyed properties. It might take time before some farmers recover from this calamity,” the Premier stressed.

In the meantime, the Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism will also deploy environmental specialists to assess sensitive biodiversity areas.

Meanwhile, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is looking after injured animals.

Source: South African Government News Agency